MICHEL REYBIER & RAOUF FINAN
- FRANCE | SWITZERLAND
THE STAR AND THE DIRECTOR
Behind La Réserve stand the Lebanese-born, managing director Raouf Finan and the visionary owner Michel Reybier. “I look for places that feel extraordinary—a certain light, a certain energy, a certain esprit,” Reybier says. “I look for qualities we can’t find anywhere else.” While Reybier dreams, Finan turns visions into ...
“I look for places that feel extraordinary—a certain light, a certain energy, a certain esprit,” Reybier says. “I look for qualities we can’t find anywhere else.”
... realities. Finan has been doing this for the La Réserve properties in Geneva, Paris and Ramatuelle. Though each of these La Réserve properties has its own distinct style, it’s not uncommon for guests to visit and stay in all of them. Reybier explains the appeal this way: “La Réserve has become like one big club, and now our members follow us all over the world.” For all the work they have done together, their chance encounter in 1998 was rather quixotic. Already a magnate in the chocolate, delicatessen, and supermarket industries, Reybier was on vacation in Bali when he came across a charming and resourceful general manager of an exclusive resort. It was Finan, who, after working at New York’s illustrious Drake Hotel and studying at Switzerland’s top-ranked Glion Institute, had been developing and running luxury hotels in Asia for almost a decade. The two felt an instant affinity. Reybier, who had just sold his business, was looking to start a venture in the hospitality industry. Knowing that a meeting of the minds and the sensibilities is rare, Reybier asked Finan to head up his new enterprise. One thing important to both right from the start, and which became part of the overall concept, was preserving a property’s original feel. But that’s not a cut-and-dry proposition, as it involves knowing what to strip away and what to keep. But, adds Reybier, “What we create is not just about preserving the local feeling. You also need to surprise, to find a balance between the location’s existing identity and coming up with something different. We want our guests to feel as if they’ve arrived someplace inviting but otherworldly, too.” Reybier pauses, and then, with a wave of his hand, adds, “There’s a saying in the hotel industry: You need to bring something different to the job, or you simply don’t belong in this business.”